Thursday, October 30, 2008


Several weeks ago, Leslie Caviglia, Visalia Deputy City Manager, found an 1858 map of Visalia in storage. Endorsed by E. E. Calhoun, the Tulare County Clerk and Recorder at the time, the map is authentic and I believe it to be the first official Visalia street map. The town was 6 years old at the time it was made. How it has survived all these years is a mystery to me. Although faded, the detail on the map is amazing. Imagine Mill Creek being called Tiber and wide enough to have an island. Notice too, the hand drawn bridge over the Tiber at Bridge and Mill (now Main) streets. Efforts are underway to duplicate and preserve this wonderful piece of Visalia history. Good find Leslie.


On October 28, 2008, the 1936 Works Progress Administration (WPA) library building was rededicated. For many years the building was the pride and joy of the community, but for more than 3 decades it was relegated to storage facility status. It is again the pride and joy of the community! The dream of many was to see it restored and have it serve as a Children’s Library connected to the 1976 library building. Tulare County undertook the restoration project with substantial state funds and donations from individuals and groups alike. It was completed in 2008 and is an example of what a community can do when it is committed to keeping these classic old buildings. Visalia Heritage raised thousands of dollars to help make this project happen, and on their behalf Jane Nash was photographed as she made some appropriate remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.


The Togni name has been in Visalia for over a century and up until the last year or so, the name has been part of Visalia’s business landscape since 1921. In that year, Charlie Togni and his brother-in-law Kenneth Branch began Togni Branch Stationary Store. In 1957 the partners sold the business to Charlie’s son Greeley, and in 1987 Greeley sold the stationary store to Pete and Dorothy Jungwirth. A couple of years ago, Greeley left Visalia due to health reasons and in 2007, the Togni Branch store closed its doors for good. It was sad to see the Togni name gone from Visalia after being a well known name for so many years here. Greeley passed away on October 22, 2008 in Folsom, California at the age of 86. Interment was at the Visalia Cemetery on October 30th.


In the 1930s, Visalia Boy Scouts built a log cabin clubhouse on the south bank of Mill Creek near Sierra Vista School. Over the years the old cabin fell into disrepair. Glen Drake, then an employee of the Visalia Unified School District, had a dream to bring it back to its glory days and he enlisted other scout “heavy hitters” to make it happen. The log cabin clubhouse was donated to the scouts and moved down Mooney Blvd. on July 27, 1999 to its new home in Mooney Grove Park. Local professional photographer and historian, Sandy Newman, snapped this once in a lifetime picture as the log cabin is trailored down Mooney Blvd.. On November 8, 2008 at 9:00am the restored log cabin will be dedicated at its new home. Come out and support the scouts and see a fine example of preserving the “old” for future generations to enjoy.


///Did anyone else hear that Mondo is no longer at The Depot Restaurant? Hard to imagine The Depot without Mondo at the front door to greet you.

///Sounds like work is progressing on a plan to connect Visalia and Tulare using the old Santa Fe Railroad route. It’s being called the Santa Fe Trail and I understand it will be open to pedestrians and bicycle traffic and I also understand it will connect to Mooney Grove Park.

///The Visalia Masons recently conducted a Cornerstone dedication program for three Visalia schools – Manuel Hernandez, Annie Mitchell and Cottonwood Creek. Laying cornerstones has been a long tradition for the Masons and I hear they were decked out in full uniform and looked good!

///Regarding the Grubstake drive-in, Peter Cowper, tells us that in the 1960s it was called Ken and Fern’s Grubstake and Art Browning confirmed it. But the last operators of the Grubstake were Walt and Peggy Sanders. The building is still standing, but its days are numbered.

“Young man, be careful how you live. Avoid the unhallowed labyrinths of vice, where the pebbles of sin are polished and the diamond of youth is dimmed.” Visalia Morning Delta, March 27, 1898.

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